The problem is that American Society is conditioned to ONLY look at short-term goals.
Actually, what I've seen is that American society has been conditioned to think there are easy answers to complex issues, if only "those damn politicians" would get out of the way.
Example: A college degree. This is supposed to guarantee you prosperity, but is an expensive investment, beyond the mode income level of the USA. And as you say, Americans think short term...We've been actively conditioned to be that way1
. So the easy answer is a student loan, right? Only now you're in debt til you retire...So, so much for prosperity.
This is, of course, intentional.1
One example of this conditioning is that the mean time between commercials on TV and radio has shrunk by about 30% over the last 20 years, small increments at a time.